Central Point, Ore. Trifecta of Deliciousness
By Kerri Regan
Culinary CoastJuly 2015
Story and Photos by Kerri Regan
So you decide to make a quick escape to the Oregon coast, but you're starting to doubt that you have enough of the bare essentials - wine, cheese, chocolate. Never fear. Three unique businesses situated around a small parking lot in Central Point, Ore., have the trifecta of deliciousness that you seek. The shops on an otherwise industrial-looking block of North Front Street contain treasures and stories that may prompt you to never pass through the area without taking this little detour.
LILLIE BELLE FARMS HANDMADE CHOCOLATES
This shop in a bright purple building evolved into existence after owner Jeff Shepherd—a berry farmer—began making cordials and selling them at the farmers’ market. Today, his artisan chocolates are completely hand-made and the shop has been chosen as one of America’s Top 10 Chocolatiers. In a nod to the synergy that the chocolate shop shares with its neighbors, its Smokey Blue Cheese Truffles feature a bestselling cheese from Rogue Creamery.
Named after the owner’s daughter, Lillie, and wife, Belle, each chocolate is a work of art. That’s by design. Shepherd is a musician and an artist who not only creates the chocolate delicacies, but has designed the logo, the decor and just about everything else in the store.
There’s no shortage of pre-packaged treats to purchase, including chocolatecovered bacon, toasted almonds or specialty brownies. But behind the glass case is an assortment of intricately hand-painted candies that will make you feel like you’re a guest at an edible art museum.
Stand behind the window and watch the candy makers work their magic— they’ll reward you with megawatt smiles.
Highway signs lead to the Rogue Creamery, where you can sample some of the handcrafted blue cheeses that have earned international recognition. The milk for the cheeses comes from the dairies along Southern Oregon's Rogue River, and it was named the world's best blue cheese in 2003. The handmade cheese is produced from sustainable certified raw and pasteurized milk, and the company prides itself on its stewardship of natural resources.
In addition to an aesthetically appealing tasting area, guests can purchase cheeses, crackers, wine and other snacks that can be enjoyed on the tables outside, if you just can't wait to dive in. Consider treating yourself to a grilled cheese sandwich - you've never had one quite like this.
The logo for this winery represents the three stars of Orion's belt, and the name is in honor of the 6-year-old son of owners David Traul and Lena Varner.
Grapes are grown on 15 acres in Talent, in the Rogue Valley Appellation. The owners are poised to break ground on a new winery and tasting room soon. They produce 11 varietals, many of which can be sampled in their tasting room for a small fee.
The uber-friendly wine educator who's usually behind the bar pouring samples will make you feel right at home. If your timing is perfect, you might end up there on an evening where they're having a dinner wine pairing event. If not, it's quite alright - you're welcome to bring your cheese and chocolates with you from next door.
To get there: Take Interstate 5 north to Central Point (exit 33). Turn left on East Pine Street, then right onto North Front Street. The creamery, chocolate shop and winery are on the left.
Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolate
211 N. Front St. • Central Point, Ore.
(541) 664-2815 • (888) 899-2022
311 N. Front St. • Central Point, Ore.
(541) 665-1155 • (866) 396-4704
Ledger David • Le Petit Tasting Room
245 N. Front St. • Central Point Ore.